Marion, you wrote “if at any given moment I am conscious that I have committed a sin, I may confess it and be forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance”. But we also “may” not. This applies to us all. And so why should I say that “THEY will have much to answer for” if we all face an uncertain future, if not only in regard to the time since last confession (which even if it’s been just a short while may be quite significant) but also in regard to the future itself?
You wrote, “Judgment awaits us all, Karen. That is a solemn fact.” And other people say it’s a religious belief that they do not share and not necessarily a fact at all. What’s “fact” to you? As a word, and since you’ve mentioned the dictionary, the dictionary offers a variety of meanings, including “something believed to be true” and “something said to be true”. As such, if someone believes or says that judgment doesn’t await us all, that too would be “fact”. But perhaps then you’d disagree with “fact”.
Notably, you used terms like “denial, meaninglessness, and nihilism” in connection with the statement “We don’t know what we’re doing”. But who actually made the statement “We don’t know what we’re doing”? In this discussion, they seem to be your words, are they not? Yet the Church teaches that Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Are the words of Jesus false? Is he not the model? Is Church teaching “denial, meaninglessness, and nihilism”? The Church teaches, in the words of the Holy Father, that it is the “real truth” that “perhaps NO sinner completely escapes that ignorance and is therefore beyond the range of that intercession for forgiveness which issues from the most tender heart of Christ dying on the cross.” And goes on to say that “one could say” that Jesus “intentionally included [all humanity] in [his] prayer to the Father”, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And that it “is certainly valid also for us, ‘because they know not what they do.’” Thus, the Church teaches that it may well be true, if not certainly so, that we don’t know what we’re doing. None of us. The Holy Father also reminds that “The same line is followed also by the Apostle Peter who, in his discourse to the people of Jerusalem, extends to all the excuse of ‘ignorance’.” If a person sincerely accepts the “excuse of ignorance”, the “real truth”, Church teaching, is that “denial, meaninglessness, and nihilism” to you?
You wrote, “When [sheep] hear a voice calling, the sheep don’t look around, look at each other, look down at the ground, look up at the sky, then take another bite of grass, and say, ‘who the heck was that calling, back there, do you suppose?’” But that straw creation is what you say. St. John says: “Do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” And St. Paul instructs: “Test everything.” Heeding the shepherd’s “test everything” instruction is following the shepherd. Of course, in our everyday world, sheep are responsive to many influences, and may also follow cows, llamas, clickers, other sheep, etc. and be scattered about by wolves. Sheep may have hearing impairments. Sheep may even be gay, including “born gay”. And notably, the Good Shepherd has more than one fold of sheep.
You asked about the statement, “I do know right from wrong”. I see that it was originally posted by “Mia”, and the “you” in my earlier comment may be to Mia if she wishes to respond.
You wrote, “if that eight-year-old child goes to the dictionary, and looks up the proper spelling of the word ‘iniquity’, and copies it down, that child will have spelled the word ‘iniquity’ correctly.” Who says? The dictionary is not the authority on the correct spelling of words. The dictionary is a guide reflecting popular use. (And not all dictionaries are particularly helpful if one doesn’t already know how to spell the word.)
You wrote, “Similarly, the Church teaches that homosexual acts are objectively morally evil - or sinful - and that Christians are to steer clear of committing them.” That is like saying we are taught to “Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the frumious Bandersnatch!” It doesn’t tell us what they are. According to the Catechism, “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex.” It uses the broad/vague word “relations” and subjective “experience”(s). In addition, according to the Catechism, “homosexual acts” are “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to natural law” and “close the sexual act to the gift of life”. While those may be clues, it’s not a definition, and to many people, no more helpful than “the Jubjub bird”.
You wrote, “We don’t have to worry about how well-formed our consciences are at the moment”. First, who is worried? “Worry” seems to be one of your issues, if not simply your choice of word. People may expend some amount of mental/physical/spiritual/financial/time/social resources in their decision making process / personal development, whether that expenditure is labeled “worry”, “analysis”, “prayer”, “discernment”, “consideration”, “care”, “effort”, “simply seek” or whatever. And many may argue that whatever difference there may be between these labels that it’s simply a matter of perspective rather than substance. Second, you say “at the moment”, but it’s always the moment called “now”. Some people might therefore read your statement as saying “We never have to care whether we hear Jesus rightly. If you’re not doing as you please, you’re worrying about it. We don’t have to worry or care about our decisions.” Anyway, whatever words like “worry” and “at the moment” might or might not mean to you, it remains the many people may experience a worrisome “gnawing of conscience” and are instructed to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”.
And many people report that although (or perhaps because) they “simply seek the authority of Jesus Christ as He speaks to us through His Church”, it remains that “at the moment” not all have apparently come to the conclusion that (any/some/all) “homosexual acts are objectively morally disordered”. The same applies to “same-sex marriages” and many other issues.
The Church nevertheless teaches that these people “must follow the certain judgment” of their conscience, even if you think, or the Church teaches that, that their judgment differs from Church teaching. Not unsurprisingly, the combination of “must follow” and “certain” poses a particular problem for people who might not find that they’ve arrived at any certain judgment, including perhaps a certain judgment that they haven’t arrived at any certain judgment. Some people might not be certain they should even be following the Church’s instruction on conscience or other instructions. Many people may find them confusing, even perhaps triggering a debilitating mental disorder. As such, some people have suggested that perhaps there are people (if not all people) who actually shouldn’t follow Church teaching.